Eventing Dressage and Showjumping Explained

Eventing is the ultimate equestrian challenge comprised of dressage, show jumping and cross country. It can be likened to a triathlon, with horses and riders demonstrating a range of skills across the three disciplines. To compete successfully in eventing combinations must show harmony and rhythm in the dressage, balance and precision in the show jumping and accuracy and bravery in the cross country phase. The combination with the lowest penalty score at the end of the event is the winner*.

Here we explain the dressage and Showjumping phases in more detail as well as the penalties relating to this phase of the competition.

Eventing Dressage

The Dressage phase runs mainly under British Dressage rules, with two additional British Eventing rules:

  • All tests must be performed by memory, you cannot have a caller or commander
  • No whips are to be carried during the dressage test. When warming up you may carry one whip (no longer than 120cms long).

Penalty Marks

Errors of course

First Error: Two error marks
Second Error: Four error marks
Third Error: Elimination, although you may continue the test if the judge permits.

Every ‘error’ will be penalised whether or not the judge’s bell is sounded or not.

Penalties

Entering the dressage arena with a whip: Six error marks**
Entering the arena with the horse wearing boots or bandages: Six error marks**
Entering the arena before the sound of the bell: Two error marks
Not entering the arena within 45 secs after the bell but within 90 secs: Two error marks
Not wearing gloves, or other minor breaches of dress rule: Two error marks

** The judge will stop the test and will only continue when the offending item has been removed.

Riding the wrong test, if the timetable allows and at the discretion of the BE Steward, the competitor can learn the correct test and restart. However, they will be penalised with four error marks

If the horse does not appear ‘sound’ or there is visible blood the judge will stop the dressage test and consult with the BE Steward and Vet. After the consultation, the BE Steward will decide if the combination is to be eliminated or allowed to complete the test, with the unevenness penalised accordingly.

If a competitor or horse fall during the dressage test, they are eliminated. However, if the competitor falls during the dressage warm up or before the start of the test, they must be examined by the Event Doctor before they remount (if the doctors allows then to do so). This is also true for a horse fall during the dressage warm up or before the start of the test, the horse must be inspected by the Event Vet, and only allowed to continue, if the vet says they can.

Eventing Showjumping Explained

The Showjumping phase is governed by British Showjumping rules, with the exception of the following British Eventing rules:

If a competitor or horse fall during the Showjumping round, they are eliminated. However, if the competitor falls during the Showjumping warm up or before crossing the start line, they must be examined by the Event Doctor before they remount (if the doctors allows them to do so). This is also true for a horse fall during the Showjumping warm up or before crossing the start line, the horse must be inspected by the Event Vet, and only allowed to continue if the vet says they can.

The practice jumps will consist of a cross pole, upright and spread and the maximum height of the practice jumps are as follows:

Class Height
Advanced 1.35m
Intermediate 1.30m
Intermediate Novice 1.25m
Novice 1.20m
BE100 Plus/BE105 1.15m
BE100 1.10m
BE90 1.00m
BE80(T) 0.90m

The Showjumping course will consist of between 8 and 12 numbered obstacles (with a 5cm height tolerance)

Penalties:

Starting and attempting to jump, or jumping and obstacle before the bell has sounded Elimination
Knockdown 4 Penalties
First disobedience 4 Penalties
Second disobedience in the whole test 8 Penalties
Third disobedience in the whole test Elimination
Fall of the competitor anywhere on the course Elimination
Fall of the horse anywhere on the course Elimination
Resistance exceeding 20 second Elimination
Failing to jump the next obstacle within 45 seconds Elimination
For every commenced second in excess of the time allowed 1 Penalty
Exceeding the Time Limit (which is twice the time allowed) Elimination
Exceeding 24 penalties at obstacles

^Enforced at the end of the round, unless the competitor retires or is eliminated

^Compulsory Retirement
^Enforced at the end of the round, unless the competitor retires or is eliminated
Error of course not rectified Elimination
Omission of obstacle or boundary flag Elimination
Failing to re-attempt an obstacle following a first or second disobedience Elimination
Failure to re-attempt an obstacle after a run out Elimination
Failure to re-attempt all obstacles of an open combination Elimination
Retaking an obstacle already jumped Elimination
Jumping obstacle in wrong order or in the wrong direction Elimination
After being stopped by the Judge or stopping voluntarily, continuing before the bell Elimination
and/or from a point nearer the next obstacle
Attempting an alternative obstacle before the bell when the other obstacle has been Disturbed as the result of the disobedience Elimination
Jumping an obstacle which does not form part of the course Elimination
Knocking so as to cause malfunction of the timing equipment Elimination
Re-attempting an obstacle, which has been disturbed, before the bell Elimination
Jumping or attempting to jump any obstacle or passing through the finish without wearing a hat Elimination
Improperly leaving the arena Elimination
Failing to cross the finishing line mounted Elimination

At the discretion of the BE Steward, in consultation with the Showjumping judge, a competitor may be eliminated for:

  • Unauthorised access to the arena
  • Receiving unauthorised assistance
  • Failure to enter the arena mounted and through the designated entrance
  • Failure to enter the arena within one minute of being called
  • Failure to commence the round within 45 seconds after the bell
  • Ignoring the bell when required to stop during the round
  • Failure to leave the arena mounted and by the designed exit, unless injured.

After you have successfully completed the dressage and Showjumping phases you can then move on to the cross country phase.

To start your eventing experience why not enjoy Eland Lodge’s British Eventing fixtures on the 17th - 18th April and 26th - 27th June 2021, the classes start from BE80 up to Novice.

*British Eventing Rules and Members Handbook 2020